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Thread: the best show in town

  1. #1

    the best show in town

    Hello Everyone!


    Lately I have been thinking about the claims of almost every single buddhist tradition to be the real deal...as opposed to all the other schools. Sorry if this sounds like a rant by the way, but it isn't...I am just sharing a few personal ideas so we can all get to know one another a bit better.

    A lot of the traditional conflicts between Pali-scriptures oriented groups, northern vs. southern school (the Hui-neng incident), Chan vs.tibetan buddhism....Nichiren against the other Japanese schools etc. can be better understood when one takes a closer look at the historical context, the "Zeitgeist" and the actual doctrinal differences....but obviously a lot of the times it was just about power. People stuff, ego stuff.

    I don't want to dwell on individual incidents of the past but would rather like to express my amazement, that certain "let's compare our penis size" attitudes are still alive and kicking in the modern buddhist world in the west. My school is better than yours...gets you to enlightenment faster etc. etc.

    In a sense the current status quo is a relief as well, since it underlines the fact, that we are all just people and that life, buddhist practice and the whole rest are our own personal responsibility, period.No hiding behind lineage, culture and a "holier than thou" attitude.

    I practice soto style Zazen because it works FOR ME. Different people, different needs, that has been my experience. I've been spiritually around the block so to speak and am happy to have finally found my non-pretentious home, here in the hallowed halls of the treeleaf sangha. If this is the "wrong buddhism", I'll gladly remain a wrong-buddhist for a few kalpas.

    To me, treeleaf is the best show in town.Why? Because I am the one who made the conscious decision to buy the ticket and so far I've had no reason to ask for my money back.

    My zafu knows no better or worse, faster or slower. It's just where I have my special date with the universe....in the NOW...which is all I ever asked for.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  2. #2
    I wholeheartedly agree with what you just said. One of the reason I liked Soto Zen Buddhism is because it worked for me. There was no " Mines better than yours " attitude. It was " Just sitting"..thats it, nothing more, nothing less.

  3. #3
    It is a very good "show" here at Treeleaf Zendo, isn't it? I for one feel very much at home.

    In all honesty the whole of the Dhamma / Dharma is a good show. I have found a great deal of inspiration in every Buddhist tradition I have studied and participated in. I think when we look at the whole of the message it is really much the same, just a different filter.

    I'm a member here because the practice works for me. Does that make me a Soto Zen Buddhist? I don't know. . .I'm still learning what that means. I do know that I am at the point where I am settling down into a consistent practice at that practice is Dogen style Zazen.

    Gassho, In the Dhamma, & Keh-leh phe,

    Greg

  4. #4
    You'all obviously missed the talk in which I threatened an eternity in hellfires to anyone who doesn't believe 100% of everything I say. ;-) Jundo" the Infallible" Cohen

  5. #5
    Jundo,

    I'm glad your joking. What I cannot get my head around is the people who say exactly the same thing but actually mean it!!

    I used to get angry with them, or have hurt feelings.

    Now I just don't know whether to laugh at them or cry for them.

  6. #6
    Hi,

    even though Dogen Zenji was, at times, very critical of others, he also strongly criticized even the use of the terms 'Zen' and 'Soto', arguing against the notion of there being 5 unique Zen schools and stating instead that there really is only one Buddhadharma (see Shobogenzo Butsudo).

    Apart from the various Zen traditions, I personally also feel it is a mistake to ignore the early Pali teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, as do some practitioners. After all, we canít claim to be part of a long heritage dating back to him, but at the same time say that the Pali suttas are irrelevant for us. Having said that, for me personally there is no doubt whatsoever that Soto Zen (oops, please excuse my use of the term :roll: ) is also the right home Ė for me.

    Gassho

    Kenneth

  7. #7
    I just feel like sitting down and shutting my mouth. That's where I'm at, sitting down and shutting up. It seems alright; the sky hasn't fallen in and I'm still going the way I'm going.
    Sounds like true Zazen to me! Your right in looking inward instead of outward towards a "dharma industry". In my life the interaction with the Sangha here at Trealeaf is very helpful, but in the end we all need to do the hard work ourselves.

    gassho,

    gregor

  8. #8
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    That was probably Stephen Batchelor, whose book Buddhism Without Beliefs presents "agnostic" Buddhism. A valid approach, IMHO.

    Kirk

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    ...He said much that made sense, but he was quite strongly athiest; the belief in the non-existence of God strikes me as just as cumbersome and loaded as the belief in God. If I find that article again I'll post it.
    Hi Harry,

    Is it possible you were thinking of Sam Harris? (http://www.samharris.org/). I've only read a few brief excerpts by him on the Web myself, but thought of him when I read your description.

    Gassho
    Kenneth

  10. #10
    Hi Harry,

    Thanks for posting that link. On the one hand, I can understand to a certain extent his criticism of extreme idealism as it is sometimes found in Buddhism. Personally Iím quite 'allergic' to esoteric practices in some forms of Buddhism. ;-) On the other hand, however, Sam Harris argues from an extremely materialistic standpoint, which, at least from a Soto Zen perspective, also misses the mark. Itís hard to put into words, but for me the Buddhadharma is somehow much, much larger than what he describes. In any case, what heís arguing for certainly isnít anything new. In Zen terms, itís commonly referred to as 'bonpu Zen' (i.e. that form of zazen without religious motivation, for example that which is practiced solely to improve bodily and mental health) which was coined by Kuei-feng Tsung-mi (jap. Keiho Shumitsu) 780-841.

    Regarding the relationship between (Soto) Zen and religion, here is what Uchiyama Roshi has to say about it in his book 'How to Cook your Life'.

    Religious life comes into existence by our asking how we can live with zazen as the standard for our lives, while in turn being protected by zazen. Looking at it from a slightly different angle, religious life becomes vital when zazen begins to function in our everyday activities.... In this respect, the zazen of Dogen Zenji is religious in the very deepest sense. It differs from any number of books on Zen flooding the market today which depict zazen simply as a method to train the hara (equated by some with the solar plexus, or with the manipura chakra), or as some sort of health plan, or as a method for cultivating the mind. Rather, Dogen Zenjiís zazen is religious in the sense that it teaches us most fundamentally how to live out our own lives.... In Japan, when you say zazen, people generally assume you are talking about something one does in order to gain enlightenment. That sort of idea is far removed from the zazen of Dogen Zenzi. For Dogen, zazen could never be separated from religion. Behind zazen there had to be Buddhist teachings, and behind them there had to be oneís own life experience.
    I personally feel the question of just what Zen is and what religion is and how this relates to our own lives is one of the most fundamental questions we have to continue to address throughout our lives, and addressing that question in itself is Dharma practice.

    Gassho

    Kenneth

  11. #11
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    My question is this: why should Zen be considered "religion"? The concept of religion generally involves supernatural beings, and Zen seems to eschew that. For me, Zen isn't a religion; at least my Zen isn't. It's a technique for self-discovery, a philosophy, a practice designed to make life more meaningful.

    Kirk

  12. #12
    Hi Kirk!

    Zen is considered a religion, because the term religion is the most popular concept used when talking about things involving contemplative practice and related topics. Popular because of the historical significance of judaeo-christian and monotheistic faiths and their cultural power to define things in general.

    Me personally, I don't do faith, I do "trust", and I trust in the words of the awakened one Shakyamuni Buddha (though I think he was just a normal mortal guy with a very high level of realization).

    Soto Zen in the form of the Nishijima lineage is as close to pure humanism as you can possibly get, but do not mistake the Nishijima-lineage with Zen in general. The buddhas Manjushri, Samantabhadra and Avalokiteshvara all have very important places in the history of Zen, you can exorcise spirits using the heart sutra and spend a lifetime gaining merit through copying it again and again by hand etc. I personally still see ZEN as buddhism and as such I don not simply discard some of the core teaching sof the Mahayana like the six realms of existence (which are full of what you would call supernatural beings), just because they have little significance in my daily life.

    Now, how we view and interpret these things, or if we attach any importance to them at all is a different matter, but to me Zen as a cultural entity doesn't exist without the Mahayana framework, and a Mahayana buddhism that ignores its own heritage in the sense of completely brushing aside all of its more arcane aspects that have been around for 2500 years only because they seem to challenge our western scientific materialism....well....make haste slowly is what I think.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  13. #13
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    But we must remember, as Jundo has pointed out, the Buddha was just a guy who found an answer. It wasn't for some time that he became deified. The whole pantheon of Buddhist deities is, I think, in part picked up from earlier traditions and overlaid onto Buddhism, and in part created long after the Buddha's death. So if you want to talk about what Buddhism was before it became a "religion", then that's where you need to look: at the core teachings.

    Kirk

  14. #14
    Hi Kirk!


    I am just playing the devil's advocate here a bit, so bear with me

    Zen in general and the practice of Zazen in particular are unthinkable without its Mahayana foundations, meaning doctrines like the buddha nature to be found in everything....building on Nagarjunas works etc.

    If you were to stick with what you call the core teachings in a conservative sense, you'd be talking Theravada buddhism only (nowadays). Both systems have a lot in common though, but are definitely not too similar, once you take a closer look, far from it actually.

    Soto-Zen in general and the Nishijima-lineage in particluar have found their own approach to the truth of the Dharma, but although I agree 100% with what that view is all about, I wouldn't call it the original teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, "original" in an ultimate sense, yes, but not with regards to historical authenticity.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  15. #15
    Hi Harry!


    Who's right - Buddha Shakyamuni or reality? The way I see it reality as it is always wins in a competition against someone we only know through his sayings that were written down a long time after his death.

    I mean no matter what is written in some of the Abhidharma teachings, the world still isn't flat So I agree with you. Best explanation wins,because it IS.

    BUT:

    All I am saying is that we should keep our western hubris in check. There are so many aspects of the Buddha's teachings that he's got spot on , which I was able to verify through my own effort.I trust he may in all likelihood have had some insights which I currently find hard to swallow and which don't form a part of my day-to-day reality....e.g. certain aspects of teachings regarding the role of karma and rebirth etc.. But sometimes I think it is better to remain non-committal rather than to say it's just BS....otherwise why still call it Buddhism?

    Gassho,

    Hans

  16. #16
    Hey Guys,

    Interesting discussion! Would it be okay if I talk about this in tomorrow's sitting? (Of course, when I do so, it is just my personal opinion. I mean, I wasn't around either to hear Shakyamuni 'in his own words,' and I am a little biased on the Nishijima lineage for some reason. :roll:

    I'm off to bed. Good night. Gassho, Jundo

  17. #17
    Hi Jundo!

    Sure, go ahead, you have my non-religious blessing

    There is a similar thread that recently got started at E-Sangha called:

    Is Zen separabledifferent than Buddhism?, A Buddhist school or something else?

    to be found in the Chan and Zen Forum.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  18. #18
    Hello Harry!

    The reason why I tend to speak out so strongly against faith probably has to do with the fact that the German equivalent "glauben" has a heavier, definite and more serious ring to it than the English term faith imho.

    We both seem to share the same "none of my business" attitude, and I am more than happy to point out to people, that my practice has very little in common with Tibetan style Guru-yoga, esoteric rituals involving loads of equipment etc. I just reserve my right to say "maybe" in a few instances, instead of "definitely not", because it just reminds me too much of our western hubris. Nevertheless, the "definitely not", may well be true.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  19. #19

    The best show in town now playing theonly show there ever is

    Evolution--the impermanence of all things, constant co-arising.
    Is this 'change' or 'process'

    My potted plants change constantly. There is continual process going on I don't know if this is change--it is process just being exactly what it is--process.
    Having a mind this is part of the process called being human. This mind gets me in trouble and yet it is with this very same troubled mind that I take off one by one the mental constraints that stunt and bind mind. I've wormed my way this far along in life and as I start to unbind mind I find that these constraints somehow have been 'protecting' me, even now as they appear to get in my way. Am I changing? Am I all along just being process called human? Isn't zen a way to cultivate the fruiting of this process called human? Isn't realization the fruit of the mind/body process called 'human'?
    It doesn't get better than this best show in town, the only show there ever is!

  20. #20

  21. #21
    Hi David,

    Quote Originally Posted by Guest 2
    Hello, I'm from the Korean Lin-Chi trad.(Rinzai).
    I would like to comment on Dogens comment on just sitting is enlightenment. What I believe Dogen is actually saying is, that the mind that does not discriminate and abides nowhere is the aim of enlightenment and whilst sitting Zazen, this occurs. However, to truly realise Satori, one must be able to carry this "Sitting" mind with them at all times. Another way of saying this is from an old Master,"Every day mind is the way".

    David
    I would say that Dogen was rather more radical about it (just sitting is enlightenment) than that, and also his point of view was a bit different.

    He meant, in my understanding, that the act of just sitting itself, just crossing the legs and straightening the spine, is a perfect act right then and there, with nothing to add to it and nothing to take away. There is nothing to seek, nothing to achieve. It is simply reality at that moment. It it is so even when one does not feel "nondiscriminating and non-abiding" like you describe. There is no "special state" to obtain.

    Of course, by learning to live as if there is nothing to add to life and nothing to take away, nothing to seek, nothing to achieve, that there is no "special state" to obtain ... well, is that not a VERY special way to just be??

    Furthermore, Dogen meant that even when Zazen is boring, or unpleasant, or unbalanced, or anything but feeling like "enlightenment", and even when the mind is unstable, and discriminating and abiding on this and that ... well, that is STILL enlightenment right there and there,

    In other words, the point is not to constantly possess all through your day some mind that does not discriminate and abides nowhere, although we can feel that way sometimes and at certain moments. Instead, the point is to just have the mind we have at any moment, even when it is really discriminating and abiding in suckiness (i.e., suCKiness or suCHness). Thus, not discriminating against a mind that discriminates, not abiding in a mind that abides ... that is a mind that truly does not discriminate or abide!!

    In other words, "Everyday mind is the way". Nothing to escape about it ... thus we are free.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I am going to give a little talk related to this before tonight's sitting, entitled maybe "Making THE RIGHT CHOICE."

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